By KEVIN DERBY
On Monday, a Democrat in the Florida Legislature filed a bill to decriminalize possessing 20 grams or less of marijuana in the Sunshine State.
State Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, the deputy Democratic leader in the House, filed the bill.
“We must restore justice to our broken criminal justice system,” Jones said. “For far too long, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana, and we must end this injustice once and for all.”
Shevrin JonesThe bill will amend current law “by reducing criminal penalties for possession of specified amounts of cannabis (20 grams or less) and products containing specified amounts of THC (600 milligrams or less)” and have some juvenile violators face civil citation or ore-arrest diversion programs if caught with marijuana. If adopted, the bill would take effect July 1, 2020.
“After being charged with possession, many Floridians feel the lasting impact as their student financial aid, employment opportunities, housing eligibility, or immigration status are adversely affected,” Jones said. “When we take away these foundational components of security, we’re capping people’s potential in life. That’s why I’m proud to introduce legislation to fix this problem. By tackling this issue, we can make our communities more equitable and safer.”
In recent years, Floridians have been more open to expand medical marijuana in the Sunshine State, including Amendment 2 being added to the Florida Constitution back in 2016. State Agriculture Nikki Fried made her support of medical marijuana and her criticism of how Republicans enacted it one of the cornerstones of her campaign last year as she became the only Democrat to hold statewide office in Florida.
First elected in 2012, Jones is facing term limits next year and represents parts of Broward County. He leads Democrats on the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee.